How to bring the Open 60 Trimarans back ?

ORMA fleet in 2005...

impressive ORMA open 60 Trimaran fleet in 2005…

… we remember, that the Open 60 Trimarans (or commonly known as ORMA 60) had been the fastest sailing boats on our planet (with speeds of 36-38 knots), mostly built in the 90ths and seen on different regatta fields, battling high seas for distance (speed) records and non stop circumnavigations.

Aren’t legendary Open 60s’ like Primagaz (with Skipper Laurent Bourgnon, 1966-2015), Fujicolor II and Fujifilm (with skipper Loïck Peyron), Groupama 1 and 2 (with skipper Franck Cammas) or Banque Populaire IV (former Bayer Cropscience with skipper Pascal Bidégorry) of uniquely beautyness and of extra ordinary performances ?

In 2007 the organizers, mainly the management board of ORMA (Ocean Racing Multihull Association) decided with a huge impact by the French racing and boat industries to develop a following up one-design class, the MOD70. In 2009 the Multi One Design S.A. was created to run this class as “sailing business” at a sales prize of 3.5-5.0 million US dollars each boat.

As we know, the targets to establish a new, safer and cheaper class failed and the MOD70 events stuck quickly since two years, going nearby down to “Zero”. (Rec.: The last event in 2013 was the Route de Princes and has seen onlyfour Mod70 Trimarans (Edmond de Rothshild, Oman Air-Musandam, Spindrift Racing and Virbac-Paprec which just was sold in 07/2015 to U.K.).)

The MOD70 class never has and never had a real future under given difficult circumstances of the global financial crisis which started in 2008 and still keeps going in 2015 with the Euro dept crisis (since 2009) and Greek crisis, beside some other economically hot spots, e.g. repeating threatening of US’s indebtedness (in summer 2011, October 2013 and February 2014). The target to build 12 identically boats never was succeeded.

The MOD70 one-design class lacks of sponsors and attractive event series. And these powerful boats have been less safe for the smaller crews (regularly 6 members) as promized.

In my own understanding the MOD70 aren’t safer boats (compared to the ORMA Open 60) as we see in this vid of Spindrift inspite the Mod70s have a shorter rig, a smaller mainsail and a narrower beam.

Class MOD70….. ORMA open 60…..
Lenth overall……………….. 21.2 m 17.88 to 18.25 m
Beam overall……………….. 16.8 m no limit (mostly ~62 feet)
Bow sprit…………………….. n.n. no greater than 2.75 m
Draft…………………………… 4.50 m 1.95-3.75 m (daggerboard up/down)
Mast rake…………………….. n.n.
Height above waterline… 29 m max. 30.3 m
Light deplacement………. 6.95 to 6.0 to*
Up-wind sail area………… 310 m2 300 m2
Down-wind sail area……..
409 m2
400 m2
limited to 15 new sails every 2 years
*)  The open 60 Trimarans use 500 litre ballast tanks in the centre main hull to trim the horizontal balance for avoiding heavily bow pitching and nose diving which makes the total fine tuning challenging, beside trimming foiled daggerboards and wing rotation canting mast.

Compared to the Open 60 Tris the 10 feet longer boats of Mod70 are little bit more comfortable for a single handed or two-handed crew and the heavy loads are spread over a bigger structure with lower risks of causing premature material fatigue. The Mod70s look “less wet” and sailing more quietly (“less bumpy”) at high speed and “less demanding”… but they are still heavily overpowered and risky boats.

For my own taste and understanding of a real “Racing Trimaran” the Open 60 is still the ultimatively multihull boat of high agility and cheerful temperament riding rough seas remembering a wild Rodeo horse. The footage we got on TV screen 10-15 years ago are still spectacular.

No doubt nowadays we see Maxi Trimarans at the size over 30 metres (100 feet) as experienced with Bank Populaire VII (with skipper legend Loick Peyron) and some new ones being built these days for new record attempts and round the world circumnavigations (single handed and two handed) will soon be launched. We can expect latest in 2017 from Groupama Sailing Team with French skipper Frank Cammas (as pre-announced by himself in November 2014) something bigger than 100 feet.

Is there any chance to bring the Open 60s back ? – I have no doubt they can experience a revival… a good example how it can work for smaller budgets (as a new sailing team can buy used ones for something between 200-400 Thousand Euros) is the TEAM AUSTRALIA around Sean Langman (founder of NoakesGroup in 2006).

Former Open 60 Trimaran Bank Populair IV had been brought in 2011 to Australia. This boat can be counted as one of the quickest (or probably the quickest) racer on the coasts of Down Under continent; similarly we have seen already in 2010 the famous Open 60 Trimaran Geant (with French skipper Michael Desjoyeaux) on the way to New Zealand… being sailed on own hull from France to New Zealand by new owner Simon Hull… and short after totally branded and sponsored by Vodafone (Auckland).

TEAM AUSTRALIA setup own events, embedded within well known regattas like the legendary Sydney-Hobart Race… in my understanding it’s a smart way of low budget marketing in high tech sail racing sports.

ORMA 60 trimaran to Race Sydney to Hobart

makethumbnail.phpSean Langman and Team Australia had announced in summer 2013 that they will be running an exhibition race with another ORMA 60 trimaran from New Zealand (Team Vodafone Sailing with home port in Auckland), starting 2 hours after the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on December 26, 2013.

Trimaran "BIG RED" with skipper Simon Hull (since 2010 in NZ)

since 2010 in NZ: Trimaran “BIG RED” (former open 60 Tri Geant) with skipper Simon Hull

In following video interview Sean discussed with Multihull Central (Australia) his plans and expectations of beating the monohull fleet by at least half a day. Also below a vision from the Sydney to Hobart Passage record that Team Australia set earlier in 2013 (with 29 hours 52 minutes and 23 seconds).


(P.S.: Some other examples how an ORMA open 60 can live on will follow separately. – Happy & Safe Sailing !)

One response to “How to bring the Open 60 Trimarans back ?

  1. Pingback: A legend within the World of Trimaran Enthusiasts (WTE): 35 Feet Trimaran ADAGIO… | World of Trimaran Enthusiasts·

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